Councillor says speed cuts will hurt tourism

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A SELKIRKSHIRE councillor has described a proposal to reduce the speed limit on one of Scotland’s most dangerous roads as “bad for business and tourism”.

Scottish Borders Council’s executive committee unanimously backed a consultation to look into turning both the A708 from Selkirk to the Dumfries and Galloway border and the A6088 from Hawick to the Carter Bar into 50mph routes.

The A708 was ranked in the top five most hazardous roads in Scotland during a survey by the Road Safety Foundation last year, with nine fatal or serious accidents between 2006 and 2008.

The report presented to executive members, which proposed a speed limit consultation with local communities on both roads, said such a move would yield “positive results and reduce the number of speed-related accidents”.

But councillor Kenneth Gunn disagrees.

He said: “About a year ago, I suggested the possibility of 50mph speed limits being imposed at three points only: Yarrowford, Yarrowfeus and Cappercleuch, but it was pointed out to me by councillor Carolyn Riddell-Carre that this would legally require so-called reminder signs to be erected the entire length of the route.

“I can tell you I was not consulted about the report agreed this week and, if I had been, I would certainly not be supporting consultation over what amounts to a speed penalty on motorists along the entire length of the A708 in the Borders which will be bad for business and tourism.

“My own view, which I will make forcibly throughout the consultation period, is that 30mph limits should be imposed in the three distinct communities, but that the rest of the route, which has been upgraded in many places and is in a vastly superior state to the road in Dumfries and Galloway, should not be constrained under 60mph.”

Councillors who represented residents who live along the A6088 – which witnessed 16 accidents resulting in injury between 2006 and 2008 – have backed plans to reduce the speed limit.

But Hawick and Denholm councillor Jock Houston did question how such a limit would be imposed.

He said: “There is a lot of local concern (about the A6088) expressed by residents and the community councils of Hobkirk and Southdean and their views will weigh heavily.

“One problem is enforcement and its cost. Speed cameras or police patrols cost money and there is not going to be much of that around for several years.”

Councillor Stuart Marshall told us: “Fast rural roads are a regular feature of debate at community councils and only last month Burnfoot Community Council called for a speed reduction on the Appletreehall to Courthill road.

“Countryside roads at this time of year attract more motorists, horse riders, and cyclists, so I would welcome these proposals.”